Boris Again Reaches For WW2 Imagery to Push Covid Booster Campaign

The United Kingdom received yet another direct address from the Prime Minister Wednesday evening, with Boris Johnson making a return to wartime metaphors that were so common in the early part of the pandemic, while his top scientist appealed to the public to stop socialising now to enjoy Christmas.

Boasting of the speed at which the United Kingdom was giving third doses, Boris Johnson said from Downing Street on Wednesday that, per capita, British people were thrice-jabbed at a rate twice of that seen in the European Union, and over twice that in the United States. Yet this was still not enough, he said, as “the wave of Omicron continues to roll over our whole of our United Kingdom”.

The Prime Minister said hospitalisations were up ten per cent and at 170,000 the number of new coronavirus cases detected was the highest ever in the United Kingdom — a development that comes as the country simultaneously approached an all-time high in the number of tests administered. Indeed, the number of tests being undertaken is now so high that new testing slots became unavailable to book in England this week as capacity hit the maximum.

Johnson said, promoting the ‘booster’ third shot campaign: “you can get jabbed right now and it’s absolutely vital that you do, because the wave of Omicron continues to roll over our whole of our United Kingdom, with over 170,000 covid cases today, the highest daily number ever reported… the progress we are making with the booster is absolutely vital. These numbers are extraordinary, we really are boosting a huge number of people now, we’ve got a much higher proportion boosted than either the United States or Europe.”

There was also a return to some of the war-like talk that characterised some of the early pandemic rhetoric from the government, when he praised “healthcare auxiliaries, an emerging territorial army” of volunteers helping administer doses, while encouraging the public to give the Omicron variant “both barrels” — a reference to a double-barreled shotgun.

Standing to Johnson’s right at the conference was the UK government’s Chief Medical Adviser Professor Chris Whitty, who advised the public — at first obliquely but later in clearer terms — that they should limit themselves to essential socialisation in the run-up to Christmas.

Following up remarks that people should get tested before socialising, Whitty told the conference: “I think that what most people are doing, and this seems very sensible, is prioritising the social interactions that really matter to them. And to protect those ones, de-prioritising ones that matter much less to them. And I think that is going to become increasingly important as we go into the Christmas period, and people are taking a lot of precautions — and this is exactly right — for instance if they are visiting vulnerable people they are taking tests beforehand.”

Later, Whitty made the point more bluntly: “…I do think people should prioritise what matters and that by definition means de-prioritising other things, and I think people are doing that, and I would recommend that, and most people would recommend that.”

The conference comes after a further tightening of rules, which include making face masks again mandatory in many public places and the introduction of coronavirus passports for some venues. Despite a sizable Conservative backbench rebellion against the measures at a vote on Tuesday night, the measures still passed as the government had the support of the so-called opposition.

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